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Parson signs protections for large livestock operations into law

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s chief executive has added his signature to a measure aimed at protecting large livestock operations.

On Friday, Gov. Mike Pason signed  SB 391, championed by Sen. Mike Bernskoetter and Rep. Mike Mike Haffner, which prohibits local governments from creating rules for agricultural operations stricter than those already imposed at the state level.

“Senate Bill 391 is a big win for Missouri farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses,” Parson said. “I applaud Senator Bernskoetter, Representative Haffner, and House and Senate leaders for sending a strong signal that we support the next generation of Missouri agriculture. We’ve now opened the doors that will allow Missouri to lead the way in meeting a growing world food demand and ensure we keep more agriculture production in our state, strengthening Missouri’s number one industry.”

Parson has planned a ceremonial bill signing that will be held alongside farmers, ranchers, and agricultural leaders on June 8, 2019, in Sedalia, Missouri, at the annual Missouri Cattlemen’s Steak Fry.  

The new law, which will go into effect on Aug. 28, focuses on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) — commonly referred to as feedlots or farms — where a large amount of livestock is confined for more than 45 days of the year. Missouri has a number of cattle, hog, and poultry operations which fall under the definition of a CAFO. As far as experts are aware, the Show-Me State has no qualifying sheep farms.

SB 391 prohibits any county commission or health center board from establishing ordinances or other rules on feedlots that are more stringent than those already in place at the state level. Proponents argued the legislation would be beneficial to farmers — particularly smaller operations — by cutting red tape and creating more uniform standards.

“Not only will it help farms and farm families, but it will help local economies,” Bernskoetter previously told The Missouri Times.

The bill has received pushback from Democrats who argued the measure takes away control from local municipalities.